Wandering down a dusty Autumn trail one late evening, Airgates Attractions News were invited to try out Lancashire’s premier scare attraction, returning for its fourth year.
Hawkshaw Farm itself is no ordinary set of fields – as it is also home to Mrs Dowsons Dairy Ice Cream, a popular treat in the North West. However, the chills we were in search for could only be catered by this year’s Scare Kingdom Scream Park, located ideally between Blackburn and Preston just off the M6.
The attraction consists of four themed scare mazes, which gradually increase in intensity. For the preview evening, groups consisted of both young families and couples all eager to witness gruesome creatures in the dark fields of the Ribble Valley.[notice]Please Note: This review does contain spoilers. Should you wish to avoid these, please skip to the next yellow box for our experience summary.[/notice]
After being told firmly the rules of the Scare Kingdom, we headed to our first area, the Inbreeds Impound Scare Zone. Whilst the name may sound offputting, this trail involved a walk through a caravan park with surprises along the way. A craftily made hut out of wooden transport pallets made for our first real scare of the night, where a mutated pig jumped out at the middle of our group. Unfortunately it was still dusk at approximately 7.15pm so this section had little effect in terms of it being pitch black.
Being chased out of the scare zone by a chainsaw-yielding inbred, we ventured on a long, bare and infinitely muddy trail (Note to self: Next time pack wellingtons!) to experience what is deemed as the Apocalypse. Tredding into infected land, a soldier stopped us in our tracks – warning us to put arms on shoulders in order to not catch the disease which was slowly killing our race. Post-briefing, a walk through a destroyed automobile landscape soon ended up with us boarding a bus for an anti-climax – only for us to then be told to walk off with no scares whatsoever. However, a strobe maze section followed which did make up in terms of screams and shouts shortly after. This maze did ‘up the ante’ in terms of intensity, however felt a bit lacking in terms of theming and consistency (a few glances of the car park and street lights broke up the built-up atmosphere in places).
The third maze allowed for a change in tempo by bringing all the scares indoors. Waiting nervously outside a faux Box Office, we are then greeted to The Theatre of Gore Guignol. Backstage are a number of devious burlesque and circus acts, to confuse and delight us. This was the first maze of the night to get the children in our group of ten scared, and was delightfully better themed than the other two mazes we has experienced beforehand.
Looking back on Scare Kingdom, it felt like these mazes were simply a pre-show for the finale, Gaunt Hill Asylum. Another indoor maze, we are briefed by the receptionist that some mysterious activity has been ongoing at the practice. And we should under no circumstance enter Ward 13. We’re not expected to survive.
Without doubt this is Lancashire’s finest scare maze – just the right length, level of scares, quality of theming and number of actors. As you walk into the infamous ward itself, it really does hit you that this may be your final breath as you stand in the presence of a blood-stained doctor.
[notice] Please Note: Spoilers conclude here for our experience summary.[/notice]
For the inexperienced scare hunter, Scare Kingdom Scream Park is the perfect place to start for a group of fun scare mazes. Unlike most attractions of its type the audience is firmly set at families – meaning the mazes were a bit tamer with the exception of the brilliant Gaunt Hill Asylum than we were hoping for.
Saying that though, the actors cannot be criticised for their performances in a mostly unlit, muddy environment (and somewhat claustrophobic one for the indoor mazes). Hopefully the gauntlet has been laid down for next year an even scarier Scream Park is on the cards. Book your tickets for 2012, and you’re sure for a number of tricks and treats.
Overall Rating: 7/10
Related Links: Scare Kingdom Scream Park